By Alex Bookout ’15
Special to The Denisonian
It is spring of an odd number year that is almost divisible by four; do you know what that means? You are correct! It is time to begin the process of starting to think of who could maybe be president of the United States.
Impending presidential elections are the only off year event in the U.S. that the media takes more seriously than the NFL’s offseason. Keeping with the NFL comparison, most pupils and pundits believe they already know who the first pick of the Presidential draft will be: Hillary Rodham Clinton, former secretary of state and first lady.
All jokes aside, I am here to tell you that there are other candidates not named Clinton. In fact, two candidates on the Democratic side in particular deserve your attention. I am going to start with the person who is currently the closest in line to the Oval Office: Vice President Joe Biden.
Despite his predisposition for gaffes and awkward shoulder rubs, Biden is just moments away from being sworn in as president. If something terrible were to happen to President Obama, Biden would become the country’s forty-fifth president.
Likewise, if Clinton were to bow out of the race or to freefall in the polls, Biden is the odds on favorite to win the Democratic nomination. Aside from an unprecedented legislative career — thirty-six years as a U.S. Senator — Biden also has almost eight years of executive experience. Unlike the majority of vice presidents in U.S. history, Biden has played a large role in the White House.
Biden has handled important initiatives like helping implement the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, gun control legislation, helping avoid a government shutdown on New Years Eve 2012, policy on Iraq and Afghanistan and overall unbridled access to President Obama. These are major accomplishments to run a presidential campaign on and people should award the Vice President greater attention should he decide to run.
Despite the clarion call, “Run Warren Run,” Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is not running for President in 2016. However, there is an alternative to Senator Warren and a second Democrat who deserves your attention.
First as Mayor of Baltimore and then as Governor of Maryland, Martin O’Malley garnered substantive achievements. For instance, during his eight-year tenure as governor, Maryland public schools ranked first in the country five years in a row and ranked second in keeping down costs of secondary education. Equally important, the rate of violent crime dropped significantly, down forty-two percent in Baltimore and around thirty percent across Maryland.
For those disappointed about Warren’s decision not to run, you should listen to O’Malley. He offers economic populists and social liberals the candidate of their dreams.
Some of the liberal bona fides accomplished under his watch include the nation’s first legislation supporting marriage equality, expanded voting rights, an end to the death penalty, raised minimum wage and a mandated living wage, increased background checks and a ban on assault weapons and serious climate change steps. O’Malley also reformed Maryland’s income tax, resulting in roughly 85 percent of Maryland residents paying less state income tax than before he took office.
Perhaps the most underlooked quality of presidential candidates is the ability of a candidate to connect with everyday citizens. With Vice President Biden and Governor O’Malley, I strongly believe you have two candidates willing to devote the much needed time and attention to the American people and middle class economics.
As a senator and vice president, Biden has not swayed in his support to workers and, amidst a declining relationship between Democrats and labor. He has, instead, been the Obama Administration’s main connection to the latter.
Governor O’Malley’s connection to people is similar to that of a small state governor who twenty-five years ago demonstrated an uncanny ability to woo audiences with the saxophone. Governor O’Malley is the lead guitar player and vocalist for an Irish Celtic band named O’Malley’s March. Though perhaps more political than anything, O’Malley’s guitar wielding abilities parallel nicely with his messages of economic populism and middle class economics.
Secretary Clinton undoubtedly has the qualifications to be a successful president. However, instead of handing her the Democratic nomination, voters should broaden their search and let the field of candidates engage in dialogue.
If you take anything from this article, take that elections in general and the 2016 presidential election should not be taken for granted. The ability to spend over a year learning about each candidate is a beautiful right we are afforded and a poignant reminder that there are no excuses for not being an informed voter!